Effective today, Monday, February 28, the Anschutz Medical Campus is no longer requiring vaccinated members of the campus community to wear masks or to maintain physical distance in non-clinical settings on campus. While the mask mandate has been lifted, the requirement to exercise good judgment has not. When you are off campus, but in settings with a high risk of virus transmission, you should don a mask to minimize potential spread or infection. We have worked hard to get to this day, so let’s not let ill-advised behavior turn back the clock.
In addition, effective today, the campus is relaxing its mandate that COVID-19 boosters are required for all employees and students. Rather, COVID-19 boosters are now highly recommended for all who have been vaccinated, but those booster shots are no longer mandated. Anyone who has not received a booster must wear a mask and maintain physical distance. Failure to abide by these precautions may be grounds for discipline. Details about the updated campus protocols are described in the Chancellor’s Communique.
The campus also has announced that commencement activities this spring will take place in person. The events are scheduled for Thursday, May 26, and Friday, May 27, with the campus commencement ceremony on Friday morning. The School of Medicine convocation is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Friday, May 27, on Boettcher Commons south of the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities. The Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant program’s convocation is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 26, on the Library Commons. Guests will be allowed to attend commencement activities. The campus is asking that all guests be vaccinated at the time of the ceremonies. Details and updates are available on the Spring 2022 Commencement webpage.
Herman Jenkins, MD, chair of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery, announced on February 16 that he had stepped down as chair after more than 21 years as the department’s leader. Herman also said that he plans to retire from the School of Medicine at the end of April. I would like to thank Herman for his dedicated service to our school and for his efforts to build a strong team in the department. We are fortunate to have Todd Kingdom, MD, professor of otolaryngology, ready to serve as the interim chair. We will soon convene a search committee, led by Kevin Lillehei, MD, chair of neurosurgery, to seek applicants and to recommend finalists to serve as Herman’s successor.
Today is Rare Disease Day, which aims to improve access to diagnosis and therapies for people living with a rare disease. A disease that is considered rare is defined as one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. There are more than 10,500 known rare diseases, and collectively they affect as much as 10% of the population. Our campus was recently designated a Rare Disease Center of Excellence by the National Organization for Rare Diseases. To strengthen our efforts, our campus is launching a new initiative to support equity in rare disease diagnostics and care, and research coordination. The initiative intends to characterize patient disease trajectories, identify candidate therapies, and evaluate them in a translational and integrative approach. To get involved, the initiative coordinators ask you to take this survey. Initiative leaders are Melissa Haendel, PhD, chief research informatics officer and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, Shawn E. McCandless, MD, professor of pediatrics, and Matthew Taylor, MD, professor of medicine.
Robert P. Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH, professor of dermatology, has been appointed acting executive director of the VA National Dermatology Program. Bob joined the Denver VA in 2001 and he became chief of the dermatology service in 2004. In 2011, he became chair of the VA Dermatology Field Advisory Committee and established a national listserv and bi-monthly conference call for VA dermatologists.
Andrew Fontenot, MD, professor of medicine and head of the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, has been elected to the Association of American Physicians (AAP), an honorary medical society founded in 1885 for “the advancement of scientific and practical medicine.” Election to the AAP is an honor extended to physicians with outstanding credentials in basic or translational biomedical research and is limited to 70 persons per year.
The Society of Hospital Medicine has notified three of our faculty that they will be receiving awards at the society’s 2022 meeting in Nashville in April. The awardees are
Erik Wallace, MD, associate professor of medicine and associate dean for the Colorado Springs Branch of the School of Medicine, has been elected to the American College of Physicians Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee for a one-year term beginning April 2022.
Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Tom Frost, administrative assistant in the Office of Faculty Affairs for more than 20 years, who recently died. Throughout his career, Tom formed close connections with faculty members, administrative assistants, and staff throughout the School of Medicine. He had a smile for everyone who came to visit him at his desk amid the stacks of dossiers and other documents. Tom was the face of the Office of Faculty Affairs, interacting with hundreds of colleagues on a regular basis, and remarkably remembering everyone’s name. Tom’s kindness is a model for all. He will be missed.
Have a good week,
John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine